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Discussion Paper: Strengthening Ontario's Trails (Statistics Canada, 2010). Discussion Paper: Strength ening Ontario’s Trails Strategy 6 Environmental Benefits Trails can be an effective

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  • Discussion Paper:

    Strengthening Ontario’s Trails Strategy

    Ontario.ca/

  • Discussion Paper: Strengthening Ontario’s Trails Strategy

    1

    Table of Contents Introduction 2 Purpose of Consultation 3 Trails in Ontario 4

    Why are trails important? ......................................................................................................... 5 Health Benefits ..................................................................................................................... 5 Economic and Tourism Benefits ........................................................................................... 5 Environmental Benefits ........................................................................................................ 6 Cultural Heritage Benefits ..................................................................................................... 6 Social and Community Benefits ............................................................................................ 6

    Accomplishments Thus Far 8 Key Projects and Programs ...................................................................................................... 9

    A New Urban Park and Waterfront Trail at Ontario Place ..................................................... 9 Ontario Heritage Trust’s Programs and Initiatives............................................................... 10 Ministry of Natural Resources’ Land Securement Program ................................................ 10 Secondary Land Use Program ........................................................................................... 11 Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation ........................................................... 11

    Key Policies, Strategies and Standards .................................................................................. 12 Ontario Great Lakes Strategy ............................................................................................. 12 Lake Simcoe Protection Plan ............................................................................................. 12 Biodiversity: It’s In Our Nature, the Ontario Government Plan to Conserve Biodiversity 2012-2020 ........................................................................... 13 Accessibility Standards for the Design of Public Spaces: Accessible recreational trails and beach access routes ...................................................... 14 Snowmobile Trails along the Provincial Highway Right-of-Way Policy ................................ 14 #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy ................................................................................ 15 The Provincial Policy Statement ......................................................................................... 16

    What remains to be done? 17 Ongoing challenges ............................................................................................................... 17

    Liability ............................................................................................................................... 17 Trespassing ........................................................................................................................ 18 Protection of private and public property ............................................................................ 19 Conflict among trails users ................................................................................................. 20 Long-term public access to trails ........................................................................................ 20 Financial stability for not-for-profit trails groups .................................................................. 22 Support for trail planning, development and maintenance .................................................. 22 Need for new policies ......................................................................................................... 23

    Opportunities .......................................................................................................................... 24 Promotion ........................................................................................................................... 24 Trails Tourism .................................................................................................................... 25 Water Trails ........................................................................................................................ 25 Research ............................................................................................................................ 25

    Conclusion 26 Appendix A: Ontario Trails Coordinating Committee Membership ...................................... 27

  • Discussion Paper: Strengthening Ontario’s Trails Strategy

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    Introduction Ontario is home to the second largest network of trails in Canada, with over 80,000 kilometres spread out across the province (National Trails Coalition, 2010).

    Trails connect communities and people to their neighbourhood and the environment. They provide people with places to hike, walk, run, ride, enjoy the outdoors and explore.

    The Province of Ontario recognizes the importance of trails and in 2005 launched the Ontario Trails Strategy (Strategy). The Strategy was developed collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders, as well as Aboriginal communities. The Strategy laid out a long-term plan for developing, managing, promoting and using trails across the province. At that time, the Province also made a commitment to review the Strategy to ensure it remained relevant over time.

    Since then, trail groups, property owners, environmental and heritage organizations,

    conservation authorities, public health units, municipalities, the tourism industry, Aboriginal communities and the Province have worked together to support trails. Together we have improved collaboration, increased the number and kilometres of trails, enhanced the trail experience and educated the public about trails.

    The Province has implemented a number of initiatives that have impacted the trails community and contributed to the health and sustainability of Ontario’s trails. Some of these initiatives are outlined later in this discussion paper. Given these new initiatives, the time is right to revisit the Strategy to identify new opportunities to support the trails community; and work to address the challenges facing the trails community.

    In a time of limited financial resources, the Province is seeking input and ideas that are not reliant on additional government investments. We, at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport have identified three objectives that will guide us as we revisit the Strategy:

    1. Access: Ensuring trails are widely available, safe, and accessible for future generations (e.g. implementing the accessibility standards for the design of public spaces).

    2. Awareness: Making Ontario residents aware of the economic, tourism, health, environmental, cultural heritage and community benefits of trails to encourage increased use.

    3. Sustainability: Having a strong trails community, with the capacity to sustain trails, in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, over the long-term.

  • Discussion Paper: Strengthening Ontario’s Trails Strategy

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    Purpose of Consultation The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is seeking your input to help ensure that Ontario’s trails remain vital for years to come. We welcome your suggestions on how to remove barriers and take advantage of current opportunities.

    In this paper, you will find:

    • Information on the importance and benefits of our trails;

    • An overview of what the Province has done and is doing to support trails across the province; and,

    • A review of what remains to be done, with related questions that we would like you to consider.

    Please submit your responses, comments and suggestions through the Environmental Registry at http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ (EBR Registry Number: 011-9565). Your input will help the Province, in collaboration with trail stakeholders, strengthen the Strategy.

    http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/

  • Discussion Paper: Strengthening Ontario’s Trails Strategy

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    Trails in Ontario Trails can be:

    • footpaths with natural surfaces;

    • multi-use tracks with manufactured surfaces;

    • on-road bicycle routes;

    • groomed and maintained off-road vehicle and snowmobile routes;

    • walkways, boardwalks and sidewalks;

    • utility corridors or former rail lines;

    • multi-use trails on Crown land with natural surfaces in natural areas;

    • forestry and mining access roads on Crown land designated as trails; or

    • waterways and portage routes.

    Trails are widely available in all regions, inexpensive to use and can be enjoyed by people of all ages including children, youth and seniors, as well as people with disabilities. Trails are found in urban, suburban, rural and remote locations. The majority of trail kilometres, approximately 60 to 70 per cent, are located in rural and remote areas (National Trails Coalition, 2010).

    Trails are used for recreation, tourism and active transportation.1 Trails support a wide range of activities such as walking, hiking and running, in-line skating, cycling, horseback riding, cross- country skiing, snowshoeing, sn

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